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How Republic Day parade will be protected from chemical attack

The National Disaster Response Force will deploy 90 personnel to guard the parade which will be attended by President Pranab Mukherjee, PM Narendra Modi, Union Ministers and other dignitaries.

delhi Updated: Jan 26, 2017 01:27 IST
Faizan Haidar
Republic Day
90 personnel of the National Disaster Response Force will be deployed on the Rajpath to guard the Republic Day parade from chemical, nuclear, biological and radiological weapons. (Handout)

At a time when the threat of chemical and radiological attacks cannot be ruled out, the National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) has deployed 90 men from the CBRN (chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear) unit for the first time at the Rajpath to keep a check on the radiation levels in the area.

Ahead of Republic Day, a series of alerts have been issued by the Intelligence Bureau, keeping security agencies on their toes. Apart from the place where the parade will pass through, security at important installations such as airports, metro, markets and malls have been increased. A latest alert also says that seven terrorists have got hold of uniforms worn by army personnel of the rank of captain and subedar.

An NDRF team scanning the area around the Republic Day parade route. (Handout)

“In view of the increased threat this year we have deployed two teams comprising 90 personnel with sophisticated equipment. With HAZMAT vehicle, which is a specialist vehicle to provide protection against CBRN threat, we are extra prepared. Earlier, NDRF teams used to be in the periphery of the Rajpath but this time they will be close to VIP enclosure and the vehicle will also be there,” said an NDRF official.

The vehicle has special CBRN detectors like HGVI (hazardous gas vapour identifier), smart bio sensors (SBS), isotope identifier and MultiRAE to detect any CBRN threat. According to NDRF, the vehicle, which they purchased in 2010 and is the only one with any force, is capable of operating in any contaminated environment.

An NDRF personnel inspecting the area around the VIP enclosure on Rajpath ahead of the Republic Day celebrations. (Handout)

“The checks (for suspect radioactive leaks) are being done for the first time. The personnel are also carrying body suits,” the official added.

Since terrorist organisations worldwide are adapting to newer modus operandi and resorting to unconventional methods, in November, a joint mock exercise was conducted at a metro station to check the reaction in case of a chemical attack or a radioactive leak.

An NDRF Hazmat vehicle near Rajpath on Sunday. (Handout)

As part of the drill, one passenger brought chemical aerosol and released the chemical gas at a crowded point near metro ticket counter. The passenger and security staff in the nearby vicinity of the chemical release started showing the symptoms of convulsions, spasm, unconsciousness, irritation and uneasiness. These abnormalities were immediately noticed by the on duty CISF personnel and all the concerned agencies were informed.

Apart from important installations, personnel at election duty in Punjab have also been asked to be on alert. “In view of the Republic Day, we are maintaining highest level of security and two additional layer of frisking has been added at the airport. While in metro, one layer of security has been added, where commuters are frisked while they are in queue and second time after they cross the metal detector,” said a CISF official, the force which provides security to airports and metro.